Why is the US shifting its missile defense out of Europe?
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently announced plans to cancel a planned US missile defense network in Europe, and instead beef up its interceptors in the Pacific.
By Fred Weir, Correspondent / March 28, 2013
Shooting down incoming missiles is notoriously difficult, despite rosy claims of success. But the potential for it both soothes populations and riles governments. Here’s an update.
Q: How effective are today’s antimissile systems?
The famous “Scud busters” of the first 1991 Gulf War were American-made Patriot missiles deployed to Israel. While their success rate at the time was claimed to be 96 percent (later revised to 60 percent), Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens said later that their impact was “minuscule and, in fact, meaningless.” Evidently, the inflated claims were propaganda. The aging Russian-made missiles launched by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had their own problems: They tended to disintegrate in flight.
RECOMMENDED: Do you know anything about Russia? A quiz.
An Israeli-developed antimissile system called Iron Dome reportedly had more success against short-range missiles fired into Israel by Gaza militants in November last year. Israeli government figures put its success rate at 84 percent, but independent video analysis said it was closer to 40 percent, and other estimates put it much lower.
Q: Why is the US canceling its European missile ‘shield’ and setting one up on its West Coast?
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently announced the cancellation of an antimissile deployment in Europe. Experts point to two reasons: money and North Korea. Mr. Hagel also said the United States would put 14 interceptors in Alaska by 2017, to counter a rising threat from North Korea’s aggressive nuclear-weapons and missile program. North Korea has been testing longer-range missiles and recently completed a second successful test of an atomic bomb in February. (Scientists say Pyongyang’s ability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon and put one in a missile is years away.)
Hagel’s announcement about the missiles in Europe, while greeted with official nonchalance by Russia, could still warm up US-Russian ties. Russia has long objected to the prospect of missiles in Europe, saying they could target the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that are the bulk of Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent. Russia’s concern had led it to repeatedly threaten to leave the START nuclear-arms reduction talks.
Q: How might the unilateral stand-down play in the US and Russia?
Conservative critics of the Obama administration may smell a rat. To them it may look like the fulfillment of President Obama’s promise to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, overheard by an open mike at a South Korean security conference a year ago. Mr. Obama told Mr. Medvedev that he would be able to show the Russians “more flexibility” on missile defense after he was reelected in November.
And Russian conservatives are suspicious, too. The shifting of a few missiles does not change what they perceive as a US plan for unchallenged military superiority. Missiles in Alaska, they say, could still hit Russian ICBMs.
The Department of Homeland Security is spending more and more on pricey hollow-point bullets for law-enforcement officers — even as it plans to enforce furloughs and other cuts on Customs and Border Protection employees due to sequestration.
The Department of Homeland Security plans to buy more than 1.6 billion rounds over the next five years for training and on-duty purposes. They cite the numerous law enforcement agencies contained within the department with employees who carry weapons. But the purchases have led to criticism that the agency is spending money on bullets that can cost twice as much as regular ammo — and questions over whether those bullets are really needed for training purposes.
“Obviously you want to know how a hollow point is going to cycle through your weapon,” Scott McCurley, manager for Maryland-based Horst and McCann firing range and a former soldier for the U.S. Army, told FoxNews.com. “But I don’t think there’s much of a difference when training. One box of rounds per gun is enough. The cost outweighs the purpose.”
It’s unclear how many of the total rounds sought would be hollow-point, but a recent solicitation specifically called for 360,000 rounds of hollow-point bullets.
Bin Laden did NOT reach for his gun moments before he was shot dead by Navy SEAL: Another member of Team Six gives account of night
- Latest leak contradicts account given in recent Esquire article
- Navy SEAL source says that story of The Shooter is ‘complete B-S’
- Esquire editor-in-chief says: ‘We stand by our story’
By DAMIEN GAYLE
A third member of the U.S. special forces unit that raided Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound has come forward to tell his story – with yet another version of how the Al Qaeda chief met his end.
The previous account, given by a Navy SEAL only identified as The Shooter in Esquire magazine, claimed he had confronted Bin Laden in the terror chief’s bedroom and shot him twice in the forehead when he saw him reach for a gun.
But now a third member of Navy SEAL Team 6 who says he came face to face with Bin Laden in the Islamist figurehead’s final moments has spoken out to say details of Esquire’s scoop are ‘complete B-S’.
The latest leak comes after one Navy SEAL published a book last year about his role in the Abbottabad raid and a second spoke to U.S. Esquire for a 15,000 word article published last month.
The men’s magazine in February published a lengthy profile of ‘The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden’, whom they identified only as ‘the shooter’.
The Shooter told Esquire that on the fateful night he had confronted Bin Laden in the terror chief’s bedroom and shot him twice in the forehead when he saw him reach for a gun.
- British soldier dies in hospital after being injured in suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan
- Incredible story of the British soldier who was the only survivor of a 19th century Afghan conquest – and the warnings for today’s military missions
- ‘He was my saving grace’: Heartwarming story of how U.S. soldier saved abused cat Koshka in Afghanistan… and the feline returned the favor
That account completely contradicted that given by Matt Bissonnette, another Team 6 member, in his best-selling book No Easy Day, which was written under the pseudonym Mark Owen.
Now a third member of the secretive military unit has broken cover to tell CNN security analyst Peter Bergen that the story presented in Esquire is rubbish.
It is unclear whether he had official authorisation to speak to the media.
Just after midnight on the morning of May 2, 2011, 23 commandos and their interpreter attacked Bin Laden’s compound. They shot and killed his two bodyguards, one of his sons and the wife of one bodyguard.
The first three soldiers to reach the top floor of the house, where Bin Laden’s bedroom was believed to be, were ‘the point man’, ‘the shooter’ whom Esquire profiled, and the now-famous Bissonnette.
So far all three accounts are in agreement.
The Shooter told Esquire that what happened next was that Bin Laden peered through his bedroom door and the point man shot at and either missed or lightly wounded him, before peeling off to tackle two women nearby.
The Shooter claims he then ran alone into the room where he found Bin Laden hiding behind one of his wives, perhaps using her as a human shield. Seeing a gun ‘within reach’ he shot the Islamist twice in the head.
But according to the latest account to emerge, the story is far less heroic.
Bergen reports that what actually happened, according to his source, is that the point man shot and gravely wounded Bin Laden.
The point man then leapt on the two nearby women – to absorb any explosion in case they were wearing suicide vests – as two more SEALs went into Bin Laden’s bedroom and, seeing he was mortally wounded, finished him off.
The account is largely in agreement with that given in No Easy Day, where Bissonnette says he was one of the first in the room, saw Bin Laden close to death, then finished him off as he lay on the floor.
The source who spoke to Bergen told him there was no way The Shooter could have seen a gun in Bin Laden’s possession because the guns found in the room were only discovered on a high shelf after a thorough search.
Pouring more scorn on the Esquire account, the source further told CNN that The Shooter was actually sacked from the SEAL unit in question after bragging about his role in the raid in bars.
That contradicted claims in the Esquire article which had cast their source as a humble, retired soldier now struggling to make ends meet after leaving the military while dealing with the physical and psychological scars of the event.
Rumours had already been circulating that Esquire had been fooled by their source.
Gawker points to a post by military blogger Brandon Webb, a former SEAL himself, who cited anonymous SEAL commandos to claim Esquire had been duped.
In his post, Webb repeated the claim that The Shooter had lost his place on the SEAL team for his bar-room bragging.
Esquire, nevertheless, have stood by their story, which is closer to the official account given by U.S. authorities than either of the accounts given by CNN or Bissonnette.
Bergen himself admitted in his CNN piece that, with the compound’s buildings now demolished, there is no way to conduct a forensic examination to determine which account is the truth.
This morning David Granger, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, posted a strident denial that his contributor had got his facts wrong.
It reads: ‘Esquire and Phil Bronstein, the veteran journalist and writer of the story, object to CNN’s report in the strongest possible terms.
‘By stark contrast with Bronstein’s thoroughgoing 15,000 word report, the CNN story constitutes a mere act of assertion.
‘As far as can be gleaned from the report, it is based on the opinion of one current SEAL who was not on the bin Laden mission and who therefore could not have first-hand knowledge of it.
‘It is little more than gossip.
‘Esquire’s story remains the most thoroughly reported account of the raid and of the death of Osama bin Laden.’
Mark Owen’s account of events
The SEALs cautiously approached the room where they found two women, hysterically crying and standing over a man lying at the foot of a bed.
The younger of the two women rushed at the point man who grabbed them both and herded them into a corner. Owen comments that had the women been wearing suicide vests, this action would have cost the soldier his life but saved those of his colleagues.
According to No Easy Day, the fallen man, wearing a white sleeveless T-shirt, tan trousers and a tan tunic, had been shot in the right side of his head.
‘Blood and brains spilled out of the side of his skull,’ writes Owen. ‘In his death throes, he was still twitching and convulsing.’
Owen and another Seal shot more rounds into his chest until he was motionless.
At least three children sat stunned in the corner of the room as the commandos cleared two small rooms just off the bedrooms.
Other Seal teams cleared the rest of the third level until it was declared secure. Owen and his comrades then examined the body.
He says: ‘The man’s face was mangled from at least one bullet wound and covered in blood. A hole in his forehead collapsed the right side of his skull.
‘His chest was torn up from where the bullets had entered his body.
‘He was lying in an ever-growing pool of blood. As I crouched down to take a closer look, Tom joined me.
‘ “I think this is our boy,” Tom said.’
The Shooter’s report from Esquire
In the account given to Esquire journalist Phil Bronstein the SEAL recalls that once he locked eyes on his target, he remembers being surprised at his appearance. Bin Laden was much taller than he expected him to be – taller than any of their guys, and skinny with a short beard and shaved head.
He was holding his wife Amal in front of him as a shield and though The Shooter could see exactly what was going on through night vision goggles, bin Laden was in total darkness and could hear but not see.
‘I’m just looking at him from right here [he moves his hand out from his face about ten inches]. He’s got a gun on a shelf right there, the short AK he’s famous for. And he’s moving forward. I don’t know if she’s got a vest and she’s being pushed to martyr them both. He’s got a gun within reach. He’s a threat. I need to get a head shot so he won’t have a chance to clack himself off [blow himself up].
‘In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! The second time as he’s going down. He crumpled on to the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again, Bap! Same place.
‘That time I used my EOTech red-dot holo sight. He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out. I watched him take his last breaths, just a reflex breath.
‘And I remember as I watched him breathe out the last part of air, I thought: Is this the best thing I’ve ever done, or the worst thing I’ve ever done? This is real and that’s him. Holy sh**.
‘His forehead was gruesome. It was split open in the shape of a V. I could see his brains spilling out over his face.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2300024/Osama-Bin-Laden-death-Third-Navy-SEAL-raid-unit-comes-forward-tell-story-terror-chiefs-death.html#ixzz2OzTPuXFS
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A single-page FBI memo relaying a vague and unconfirmed report of flying saucers found in New Mexico in 1950 has become the most popular file in the bureau’s electronic reading room.
The memo, dated March 22, 1950, was sent by FBI Washington, D.C., field office chief Guy Hottel to then-Director J. Edgar Hoover.
According to the FBI, the document was first made public in the late 1970s and more recently has been available in the “Vault,” an electronic reading room launched by the agency in 2011, where it has become the most popular item, viewed nearly 1 million times. The Vault contains around 6,700 public documents.
Vaguely written, the memo describes a story told by an unnamed third party who claims an Air Force investigator reported that three flying saucers were recovered in New Mexico, though the memo doesn’t say exactly where in the state. The FBI indexed the report for its files but did not investigate further; the name of an “informant” reporting some of the information is blacked out in the memo.
The memo offers several bizarre details.
Inside each saucer, “each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture,” according to the report. “Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to the blackout suits used by speed fliers and test pilots.”
The saucers were found in New Mexico because the government had a high-powered radar set up in the area and it is believed the radar interfered with the controlling mechanism of the UFOs, according to the informant.
The FBI filed the typed page neatly away 63 years ago at its headquarters and “no further evaluation was attempted.”
The memo does not appear to be related to the 1947 case in Roswell, N.M., when Air Force officials said they recovered a UFO, only later to recant and say it was a research balloon.
“For a few years after the Roswell incident, Director (J. Edgar) Hoover did order his agents — at the request of the Air Force — to verify any UFO sightings,” the FBI said Thursday. “That practice ended in July 1950, four months after the Hottel memo. Suggesting that our Washington Field Office didn’t think enough of that flying saucer story to look into it.”
Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras
For the first time since 1981, when it dubbed sex-change operations “experimental,” Medicare has opened the door to covering transexual operations, adding to the growing list of operations that would be allowed under Obamacare.
Acting on a new request, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it is starting a new analysis that could lift the spending ban for sex-change operations with a goal of making a decision two days after Christmas and on the eve of Obamacare kicking in Jan. 1.
A 30-day public comment period just opened on the proposed “National Coverage Determination.”
“Surgical Treatment for Gender Identity Disorder, formerly referred to as transsexual surgery in 140.3, is currently noncovered under the Medicare Part A and Part B programs. The existing policy, which became effective in 1981, states that transsexual surgery is considered experimental,” said the notice just posted on the CMS.gov site.
The surging nationwide demand for popular rounds of ammunition has virtually eliminated the ability to purchase them in any quantity, thereby affecting firearms training and recreational shooting across the country, as well as the supply of ammunition to the U.S. military which relies on commercial manufacturers.
“The small-arms ammunition situation in this country is currently very bad,” said John Farnam, who runs Defense Training International.
DTI provides training in defensive weapons and tactics. As one of the top handgun instructors in the world, Farnam has trained thousands of federal, state and local law enforcement personnel, as well as non-police clients.
He pointed out that such popular rounds as 9mm and .223 calibers (same as NATO 5.56mm) “are virtually unavailable in any kind of quantity.” Both of these rounds are popular for training and are the backbone of what the U.S. military uses.
“The military relies on the retail level for their supply of ammunition and even the military has a problem getting it,” Farnam said.
There are indications that the U.S. military is looking abroad for the components that make up a round
TEL AVIV – Has the White House been misleading the public by repeatedly denying it was coordinating arms shipments to the rebels in Syria, insurgents known to consist in large part of al-Qaida and other jihadist groups?
Other top U.S. officials and former officials, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have implied in congressional testimony that they didn’t know about any U.S. involvement in procuring weapons for the rebels.
Now, a starkly different picture is emerging, one that threatens the longstanding White House narrative that claims the Obama administration has only supplied nonlethal aid to the rebels.
Confirming WND’s exclusive reporting for over a year, the New York Times two days ago reported that since early 2012, the CIA has been aiding Arab governments and Turkey in obtaining and shipping weapons to the Syrian rebels.
While the Times report claims most of the weapons shipments facilitated by the CIA began after the latest presidential election, Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND have said U.S.-aided weapons shipments go back more than a year, escalating before the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi.
In fact, the Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND since last year describe the U.S. mission in Benghazi and nearby CIA annex attacked last September as an intelligence and planning center for U.S. aid to the rebels in the Middle East, particularly those fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The aid, the sources stated, included weapons shipments and was being coordinated with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Days after the Benghazi attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, WND broke the story that Stevens himself played a central role in recruiting jihadists to fight Assad’s regime in Syria, according to Egyptian and other Middle Eastern security officials.
Stevens served as a key contact with the Saudis to coordinate the recruitment by Saudi Arabia of Islamic fighters from North Africa and Libya. The jihadists were sent to Syria via Turkey to attack Assad’s forces, said the security officials.
The officials said Stevens also worked with the Saudis to send names of potential jihadi recruits to U.S. security organizations for review. Names found to be directly involved in previous attacks against the U.S., including in Iraq and Afghanistan, were ultimately not recruited by the Saudis to fight in Syria, said the officials.
Now the New York Times has bolstered WND’s reporting, citing air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders describing how the CIA has been working with Arab governments and Turkey to sharply increase arms shipments to Syrian rebels in recent months.
The Times reported that the weapons airlifts began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanding into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows.
The Times further revealed that from offices at “secret locations,” American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia. They have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive.
The CIA declined to comment to the Times on the shipments or its role in them.
The Times quoted a former American official as saying that David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director until November, had been instrumental in helping set up an aviation network to fly in the weapons. The paper said Petraeus had prodded various countries to work together on the plan.
Petraeus did not return multiple emails from the Times asking for comment.
Both WND’s reporting, which first revealed the U.S.-coordinated arms shipments, and the Times reporting starkly contrast with statements from top U.S. officials who have denied aiding the supply of weapons to the rebels.
Last month, the White House flatly denied involvement in arming the Syrian rebels, going so far as to say the Obama administration rejected a plan by former Secretary of State Clinton and then-CIA Director Petraeus to help arm the rebels.
‘Nobody has ever raised that with me’
Further, in testimony during the Benghazi hearings, Clinton claimed she did not know whether the U.S. was aiding Turkey and other Arab countries in procuring weapons.
The exchange on the subject took place with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Paul asked Clinton: “Is the U. S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya?”
“To Turkey?” Clinton asked. “I will have to take that question for the record. Nobody has ever raised that with me.”
Continued Paul: “It’s been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya and that may have weapons, and what I’d like to know is the annex that was close by, were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons, and were any of these weapons being transferred to other countries, any countries, Turkey included?”
Clinton replied, “Well, Senator, you’ll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex. I will see what information is available.”
“You’re saying you don’t know?” asked Paul.
“I do not know,” Clinton said. “I don’t have any information on that.”
In testimony last month, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., asked then-Defense Secretary John Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whether they had supported a plan “that we provide weapons to the resistance in Syria.”
“We do,” Panetta replied.
“You did support that?” McCain asked again.
“We did,” added Dempsey, who was sitting next to Panetta.
Neither Dempsey nor Panetta elaborated on their positions or commented on any actual arms shipments.
This is not the first time WND’s original investigative reporting on U.S. support for the Syrian rebels was later confirmed by reporting in major media outlets. Other WND reporting indicates support for the Syrian rebels that goes beyond supplying arms, painting a larger picture of U.S. involvement in the Middle East revolutions.
A story generating worldwide attention by the German weekly Der Spiegel earlier this month reporting the U.S. is training Syrian rebels in Jordan was exclusively exposed by WND 13 months ago.
Quoting what it said were training participants and organizers, Der Spiegel reported it was not clear whether the Americans worked for private firms or were with the U.S. Army, but the magazine said some organizers wore uniforms.
The training in Jordan reportedly focused on use of anti-tank weaponry.
The German magazine reported some 200 men received the training over the past three months amid U.S. plans to train a total of 1,200 members of the Free Syrian Army in two camps in the south and the east of Jordan.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper also reported U.S. trainers were aiding Syrian rebels in Jordan along with British and French instructors.
Reuters reported a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department declined immediate comment on the Der Spiegel report. The French foreign ministry and Britain’s foreign and defense ministries also would not comment to Reuters.
While Der Spiegel quoted sources discussing training of the rebels in Jordan over the last three months, WND was first to report the training as far back as February 2012.
At the time, WND quoted knowledgeable Egyptian and Arab security officials claimed the U.S., Turkey and Jordan were running a training base for the Syrian rebels in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country’s northern desert region.
Any training or arming of the Syrian rebels would be considered highly controversial. A major issue is the inclusion of jihadists, including al-Qaida, among the ranks of the Free Syrian Army and other Syrian opposition groups.